Gormully & Jeffery Mfg. Co.—Makers of the “Rambler” bicycles. R. Philip Gormully, president and treasurer; Thos. B. Jeffery, secretary and superintendent. Works located on North Franklin and Pearson streets; retail salesroom at 85 Madison street; has branch houses in New York, Boston and Washington. Established in 1879.
Inter Ocean, April 17, 1886
Ed Oliver, a well-known New York wheelman, has assumed the advertising position for Gormully & Jeffrey, the bicycle manufacturers of this city. Oliver is a thorough rider and will be a strong addition to Chicago wheelmen.
The Cycle, May 21, 1886
The Cycle, June 11, 1886
Gormully and Jeffery have one of the most complete cycle factories in the country. Every part of the machine except the rubber tire, the rubber handles and the leather on the saddles is made at their works.
The Cycle, July 23, 1886
Gormully & Jeffery have broken ground, and started work on their new factory, which when completed the latter part of September, will form the the largest and most complete bicycle manufacturing plant in the world, with a capacity of turning, out seventy-five perfect bicycles a day, and will furnish employment to four hundred skilled mechanics. The new building will occupy as much ground as the present two, and will be five stories high, with a basement underneath, and will be joined to the present factories. The main floor will be taken up entirely by the offices and stock rooms, which will be commodious and elegant. Full particulars as to detail will appear in this paper at a later date. The growth of this firm has been phenomenal, and few believed a short time ago, when Gormully & Jeffery were advertising boys’ bicycles on Canal street, that so few years of shrewd business tact and excellent mechanical management would find them at the head of the industry.
The Wheel and Cycling Trade Review, May 4, 1888, and July 6, 1888
The Bicycling World, December 30, 1887
Gormully & Jeffery Mfg. Co. of Chicago, who we believe were the second manufacturers in the United States to own their factory and plant. (The H. B. Smith Company, manufacturers of Star machines, being the first.) Western vim backed by capital is hard to beat, and when we are apprised of the splendid business of the Champion people during the past season we see the results of these two important factors. During the early part of , the year this firm commenced to make their present well-known high grade machine, but in the use of certain parts of bearings unhappy complications arose, and the year 1887 will be remembered as that in which commenced one of the bitterest and hard-fought litigations in the history of cycling. The policy of this company, as expressed by their level-headed business President, Mr. R. Philip Gormully, is “to establish themselves thoroughly in one location or section at a time.” The wisdom of this method is apparent, and the foundations for an immense business are thus securely laid. This firm has gotten out during the past season an excellent two-track tricycle, and also a tandem, thus scoring a close second in producing this latter machine to the Pope Co. As the past is an indication of what the future of this firm will be where excellence of wares and square business-like dealing is appreciated, we can but congratulate Gormully & Jeffery on what the year 1887 has yielded them, and what the future promises. We must not leave this firm without special mention of the fact that during the past season they have purchased several important patents on saddles and cyclists’ other leather goods, a full and complete plant of which they also bought to manufacture the same.
The Cycle, January 14, 1887
THE firm of Gormully & Jeffery has been merged into a stock company, with the title “Gormully & Jeffery Manufacturing Company.” Mr. Phillip Gormully is president and Mr. T. B. Jeffery is secretary and manager. The business will be prosecuted with no change of policy.
The Bicycling World, January 27, 1888
“We do not care to be original for oddity’s sake,” said a representative of the Gormully & Jeflery Mfg. Co., “but neither do we believe in following blindly the lead of other makers because the form and type are accepted ones. We have aimed to secure as comfortable, strong and 3’et light a machine as skill can devise. We feel content in the result which we present to the riding public under the name of the American Rambler. We have not ignored the good qualities to be found in other rear-drivers, and we have at the same time been careful to avoid their defects. A curious coincidence was that a writer to the Cyclist a week or two ago described his ideal machine, and in doing so he gave all the points we have embodied in the Rambler, with the exception of the spring joint in the frame. The Rambler is a very steady and rigid steerer.”
We append the description in conjunction with cut:
Wheels—The American Rambler is made with a rear wheel of 30 inches in diameter, having a 7-S semi-hollow rim, and lightest grade Para rubber tire firmly cemented in by our newly patented process, which admits of its being removed and replaced readily. The front wheel is of the same construction, but carrying very much less of the rider’s weight than the rear wheel ; it is four inches smaller in diameter, and has a one-eighth inch smaller tire, thus reducing both length and weight of the structure. Spokes—Direct, as this firm believes that for small wheels these are better adapted to withstand continuous rough usage and are easier to repair in case of need.
Bearings—Each wheel runs on Smith patent ball bearings of ample size for strength, and yet small enough to produce the least amount of friction.
Frame—The entire frame is made of the best quality of imported and weldless steel tubing, carefully formed and shaped so as to combine lightness and strength. The fork turns in a socket-head of very great length, and has an original arrangement or device, which, while allowing it to turn with great freedom, assists very much in preserving the position given it by the rider in guiding it over rutty surfaces. The rear fork is connected to the main frame at the crank axle, and here also is located a yielding or elastic joint which absorbs nearly all the vibration caused by car tracks, cobblestones or curbs, and prevents it being communicated to the rider. The forward portion of the frame is also a departure from the stereotyped forms, and it is claimed it not only diminishes the
weight and increases the stability of the frame both vertically and laterally, but adds much to the general beauty and symmetry of the entire design.
Adjustment—The seat is adjustable, backward and forward, and also in height, making it suitable to the requirements of all ordinary riders, so that only one size is needed. If, however, a rider with much shorter or longer limbs than the average should desire a greater vertical adjustment than is provided, it will be furnished without additional charge. The handle-bar is adjustable in height and of our standard rams-horn pattern, which has been found to be particularly well adapted to this machine, as it gives the hands and arms a more natural position and a better opportunity to exert power than any other bar, but is interchangeable with any other type at the desire of the purchaser.
Cranks—The six-inch Champion cranks and the regular Champion ball pedals are used. The crank shaft turns in ball-bearing cases, as also do both wheels, the machine therefore having balls to every bearing.
Brake—A powerful brake is provided at the rear wheel.
Finish—The standard finish is the same as on all the Champion bicycles, nickel and enamel of the best quality procurable covering the steel.
The Bicycling World, January 27, 1888
GORMULLY & JEFFERY’S NEW HOLLOW RIM.
“How did you happen to call me “Happy Ned Oliver,” quoth that worthy, as he stepped into our office the other day, after mutual greetings had been exchanged. “We don’t know how we got on to it,” we replied, “but it fits, and hereafter ‘Happy’ you are ‘nilly willy.'” After disposing of this important subjectl, Mr. Oliver produced a bicycle hollow rim, made and shaped out of the cold steel. We were requested to put it to test as to its strength. It was pulled and pressed with all the power we possessed, and in every conceivable way we could devise, without being able to spring it one bit. Then it was banged on the radiator with no other result than to start the nickel. By the way, we want to speak of that nickel; we never saw better and never saw a smoother surface than that rim presented to nickel upon. “How is the rim made?” we asked. “Ah, how? You find out,” said Oliver, and so we forthwith set the mechanical part of our brain to work. We noticed that the rim is made of two parts and that the edges are formed in such a way that double thickness of the steel is presented to withstand the liability to indent by blows from stones, etc. The inside is of very deep section, and was not placed in position until the outer section had been drilled and the headed spoke nipples had been placed in position. This gives the inner section of rim without holes, and consequently makes the construction very strong. For two years, Mr. Jeffery, the patentee of this rim, has been at work trying to perfect a machine that would roll cold steel of fine temper into rims; he has just achieved this, and the rim shown is the produft. The rim as it comes from the machine is a perfeil circle, and so does not need trueing when spokes are put in. The successful forming of the rim from steel in its cold state produces the very strongest results, and that this rim is strength itself we have had occular and muscular demonstration. These rims are made under Mr. Jeffery’s method and patent, and will be used on the Champion Light Roadster for 1888.
Gormully & Jeffery Co., 1890
North Franklin and Pearson streets
Inter Ocean, February 22, 1889
An interesting catalogue has been published b the Gormully & Jeffery Manufacturing Company, of No. 222 Franklin street, giving illustrations of the many different kinds of cycles, the novelties among which are the American Rambler and the Ideal Rambler. A material reduction of prices is also noticeable. Any information is gladly furnished by the manufacturers, who will forward the catalogue on application.
This concern from a small beginning now ranks as one of the leaders in its particular line, the value of their immense plant mounting well up into six figures. It is the second oldest bicycle institution in this country, was the first in the West and also the very first in America, with sufficient faith in what, less than eight years ago, seemed a very precarious industry, to erect and equip a factory specially for the manufacture of bicycles. It is also largely through its efforts that the trade has assumed the proportions of to-day, as they resisted the demand for payment of royalty, which was levied by the holder of the original license, and after a long and expensive legal fight, ending in the supreme court of the U. S., they secured a verdict on each and every point raised. The decision threw the doors open and the bicycle industry, along with the Gormully & Jeffery Co., has since gone on and flourished.
The company was sold to the American Bicycle Company in 1900. Thomas B. Jeffery sold it to focus on the Rambler automobile. After receiving positive reviews at the 1899 Chicago International Exhibition & Tournament and the first National Automobile Show in New York City, Jeffery decided to enter the automobile business. In 1900, he bought the old Sterling Bicycle Co. factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and set up shop.
Jeffery started commercially mass-producing automobiles in 1902 and by the end of the year had produced 1,500 motorcars, one-sixth of all existing in the USA at the time. The Thomas B. Jeffery Company was the second largest auto manufacturer at that time, (behind Oldsmobile).
Gormully and Jeffery Bicycle Catalog
Chicago Tribune, September 1, 1899
New York, Aug. 31.—[Special.]—The bicycle trust, which has been in process of formation for two years, was finally completed today by the election of the following officers and directors:
- President—Albert G. Spalding.
First Vice President—Colonel George Pope.
Second Vice President—J. E. Bromley.
Treasurer—A. L. Garford.
Secretary—C. W. Dickerson.
Directors—Albert G. Spalding, Seabright; Colonel Albert A. Pope, Boston; A. Featherstone, Chicago; R.L. Coleman, New York; J. W. Kiser, Kiser; E. C. Stearns, Syracuse; R. S. Crawford, Hagerstown, Md.; Charles L. Ames, Chicago; R. Phillip Gormully, Chicago, and Harry A. Lozier Sr., Cleveland.
The other members of the Board of Directors which will consist of fifteen will be elected at a subsequent meeting.
The title of the new trust will be the American Bicycle Company.
Chicago Concerns Involved.
The concerns that have been purchased and have become part of the company include the following from Chicago:
- Ames and Frost company.
H. A. Christy & Co.
Fanning Cycle company.
A. Featherstone & Co.
Gormully & Jeffery company.
Hart & Cooley Manufacturing company.
Monarch Cycle Manufacturing company.
George M. Thompson Manufacturing company.
Western wheel works,
Other Companies Purchased.
The other concerns that have been purchased are the following:
- Acme Manufacturing company, Reading Pa.
American Saddle company, Cleveland.
Barnes Cycle company, Syracuse, N.Y.
Black Manufacturing company, Erie, Pa.
Buffalo Cycle Manufacturing company.
Cleveland Machine Screw company, Cleveland.
Colton Cycle company, Toledo.
Crawford Manufacturing company, Hagerstown, Md.
Columbus Bicycle company, Columbus, O.
Fay Manufacturing company, Elyria, O.
Geneva Cycle company, Geneva, O.
Grand Rapids Cycle company, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Hartford Cycle company, Hartford, Conn.
Hartford rubber works, Hartford, Conn.
Indiana bicycle works, Indianapolis.
Indiana Novelty Manufacturing company, Plymouth, Ind.
Indianapolis Chain and Stamping company, Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Rubber company, Indianapolis.
Lamb Manufacturing company, Chicopee Falls, Mass.
H. A. Lozier & Co., Cleveland.
A. D. Meiselbach, Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Engineering company, Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Manufacturing company, Milwaukee.
North Buffalo Wheel company, Buffalo.
Nuttal Manufacturing company, Nyack, N.Y.
Peoria Rubber and Manufacturing company, Peoria, Ill.
Pope Manufacturing company, Hartford, Conn.
Shelby Cycle Manufacturing company, Shelby, O.
C. J. Smith & Sons company, Milwaukee.
E. C. Stearns & Co., Syracuse, N.Y.
Sterling cycle works, Kenosha, Wi.
Stover Bicycle Manufacturing company, Freeport, Ill.
Syracuse Cycle company, Syracuse, N.Y.
Viking Manufacturing company, Toledo.
White Sewing Machine company (bicycle department), Cleveland.
For the purchase of these various plants there will be issued $10,000,000 5 per cent twenty-year gold debenture bonds; $10,000,000 7 per cent preferred stock, and $20,000,000 common stock, leaving in the treasury ample means for the purchase of such additional plants as may be desirable and for the extension of the business, especially in foreign countries.
The manufacturers have taken all the $10,000,000 preferred stock and the $20,000,000 common stock, and have subscribed for a substantial part of the debenture bonds.
The Rambler was the most popular auto developed in Chicago. More than 4.2 million were sold between 1902 and their discontinuance in 1969 by the successor American Motors Corporation. As the twentieth century ended, the Rambler factory in Kenosha was used to build engines for Chrysler Corporation autos.
Sterling Bicycle Works
Jennifer Howard says
Found a small oil can in my grandfather’s workshop, he passed away at 93 last year. It has your company name on it. Screw top oil can ,,very thin spout.hanks, Jen I would love to know more about thi sitem, but this comment box didn’t allow me to post the photo. T
You can email the photo to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
B J Bence says
Based on Google Street view I believe the building on the right in the picture is still standing. It is on the junction of N Franklin Street and W Institute Pl.